Tina Barile has owned the Romeo & Juliet Salon in Cold Spring for 18 years.
How did you end up owning a salon in Cold Spring?
I grew up in the Molise region of Italy and later studied cosmetology in Rome; I still have my Italian certificate. I came to the U.S. in 1973 — a long time ago! I lived with my grandmother on Arthur Avenue in Little Italy [in the Bronx], right across from the church. I did hairstyling there. When I came to Cold Spring, my salon was called Village Cuts, but after a year, I changed the name.
Do you miss Italy?
Of course. But I’m fortunate to live in two beautiful worlds. I try to visit once or twice a year. I always go back to my home village of Macchiagodena; the name is long but the village is tiny! I especially like Positano on the Amalfi Coast; I spent my birthday there two years ago. I love my visits to Italy, but I also love coming back here. This is my dream place; I love Cold Spring. I feel so blessed.
How have you coped with COVID-19?
Let’s put it this way; it’s been different. We closed in March, even before the lockdown. My family in Italy had pushed me to close because it was so bad over there. I reopened June 9. But I have a beautiful clientele; they are my family and they have supported me all this time. They feel comfortable and safe here now, because the salon is huge. It’s like they never left. We schedule well and I have not had to lay anyone off. My employees are like my kids. Even Elsa, who has been here for years and years!
Do you share the Italian passion for cooking?
I do, although running a business, I don’t usually have much time for it. But when I closed I was home a lot, something I hadn’t experienced before. I started to cook and bake a lot; I realized I still love it. At Easter, I made food and took dishes to friends, clients who were alone at home. One of them said I should open a restaurant, but I said no, cooking is a hobby, my passion is doing hair. I love putting a smile on someone’s face. If someone comes into the salon kind of sad or has something bothering them, I do their hair and they leave feeling happy. And that makes me happy.
Do you think we’ll get past COVID and get back to normal?
I’m positive about that. This has been an experience we’ve gone through together. I hope a lot of good comes out of it, to appreciate life more, especially the little things. After COVID, I want to visit my family in Italy. And I want to have a Sunday open house here at the salon, with all homemade food, wine and cheese and sambuca, and cookies and cake — a real Italian feast. I want to celebrate life with all my people.